Work Environment and "Opt-Out" Rates at Motherhood Across High-Education Career Paths

65 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2009 Last revised: 19 Sep 2010

See all articles by Jane Herr

Jane Herr

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Demography

Catherine D. Wolfram

University of California, Berkeley - Economic Analysis & Policy Group; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: February 2009

Abstract

Using data from the 2003 National Survey of College Graduates and a sample of Harvard alumnae, we study the relationship between work environment and the labor force participation of mothers. We first document a large variation in labor force participation rates across high-education fields. Mindful of the possibility of systematic patterns in the types of women who complete different graduate degrees, we use the rich information available in each dataset, and the longitudinal nature of the Harvard data, to assess the extent to which these labor supply patterns may reflect variation in the difficulty of combining work with family. While it is difficult to entirely rule out systematic sorting, our evidence suggests that non-family-friendly work environments "push" women out of the labor force at motherhood.

Suggested Citation

Herr, Jane and Wolfram, Catherine D., Work Environment and "Opt-Out" Rates at Motherhood Across High-Education Career Paths (February 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w14717, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1344698

Jane Herr

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Demography ( email )

2232 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720-2120
United States

Catherine D. Wolfram (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Economic Analysis & Policy Group ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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